A Few Notes on James Horner (Part One)

(thanks, Cinefix!)
 

While many will remember the late James Horner for his work on Titanic, Avatar, Braveheart and other blockbusters, my own memories of the man’s work go back to his 80’s output when a few of his scores stood out aurally and made me seek out their soundtrack albums. Amusingly enough, I hadn’t realized he’d done the score for Humanoids From The Deep until I re-watched the film for a recent blogathon.

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Society Blu-Ray Review

Society BR-DVD SetWhile I missed out on seeing Brian Yuzna’s Society during it limited run, I’d been hearing quite a lot about this 1989 film over the years while still managing not to see it until a review Blu-Ray popped up in the post. The outrageous “body horror” flick packed with intentionally campy performances, icky practical makeup effects by the legendary Screaming Mad George and a finale for the ages makes for one of those films that will cling to one’s grey matter for a while. Those squeamish to gore or sexual themes will be reaching for something to barf in, but there’s a definite “last gasp” of the 80’s Reagen era excess in the film’s themes and overall tone. Plus there’s just an overall sense of pure insanity that makes the film seem like both the best and worst nightmare you’ll ever have.
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Some Father’s Day Memories (Sort Of…)

(thanks, Star Wars Malaysia!)
 

Sadly, my own daddy-o is no longer with us, so I’m having a quieter day of no celebration or awful hastily bought ties, cheap cologne and overpriced restaurant suppers here. Instead, you get a bit of my oddball humor with a few movie clips of some memorable and not so good dads you may or may not remember.

)thanks, Movieclips!)
 

Before you get the wrong idea, I’ve certainly got fonder memories of my father, folks. I just prefer to keep them to myself. That is all. Back in a bit and I do hope your own Father’s Day was excellent and happier.

(thanks, glows!)
 

Ratchet & Clank PS4: Insomniac’s Got A Killer Game, But…


 

Well, now. I wasn’t at all a fan of the idea of a CG movie featuring these characters so the tagline “The Game Based On The Movie Based On The Game” made me cringe before I finished reading it. Nevertheless, all it took was one look at that trailer and later, the gameplay video below to change my mind. Mostly. Granted, Rainmaker Animation is certainly a talented group of folks and based on that E3 trailer from last year, they’ve certainly captured the spirit of the characters. Interestingly enough, pre-orders for the game are already being taken on a few sites despite not even the developer knowing what the price point will be.


 

That said, the big question is do we really need a movie at all? Insomniac Games is doing its best work on the PS4 to date with this remake/reboot, so there’s no question that will sell like hotcakes next year. But I don’t think the non-interactive movie will be as interesting to some gamers who don’t like sitting on their cans for an hour forty five or whatever NOT holding a controller in their hot little hands. Hell, people complain about cut scenes in games if they run over two minutes long. So having what amounts to an extended advertisement for the new game (and the PS4) may be seen as overkill to a bunch of folks who might skip paying for a ticket in favor of not so legally viewing the film once someone puts it online.

Eh, we’ll see what happens. I’m betting the critics who aren’t into games at all won’t get this much other than to lay praise on Rainmaker’s animation and storytelling. But what do I know? I’m the nut who wants a full on Disruptor remake. For the Vita. Yikes!

(Not So) Random Film of the Week: Humanoids From The Deep

Humanoids From the Deep MPIt’s pretty much a 60’s “B” flick dipped in the not for the kiddies gore and nudity of early 80’s slasher flicks. But on that level Humanoids of the Deep works. You’re pretty much getting The Horror of Party Beach and Creature From the Black Lagoon with a bit of actual horror, but the film is more notorious for its added in post-production scenes of icky, horny sea creatures molesting a few young actresses after whipping their bathing suits off. That caused a bit of a stir back when I saw this in 1980 with a few friends and I also recall a handful of people screaming and doing an exit dash at the film’s somewhat ALIEN-inspired final scene.

Back then I didn’t like the film all that much because of its extremes and that it felt like two different films crunched together at the expense of the better one. But over time it’s become something of a mash-up of intentional and unintentional comedy, eyeball-rolling “shock” scenes and yes, well-known cast members who didn’t realize they’d be starring in a rather mean-spirited exploitation moneymaker that would garner a loyal fan base. For me it’s more of a great guilty pleasure when I look at it now. Albeit with a big blood red caution buoy in the water if you’re squeamish or easily annoyed by gore and gratuitous nudity in a “roughie” manner.

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Blu-Ray Review: Blind Woman’s Curse

Blind Woman's Curse BR_DVD Cover (Custom)One of those wild Japanese films packed with striking imagery and offbeat performances, Teruo Ishii’s 1970 hybrid Blind Woman’s Curse makes for another excellent Blu-Ray release from Arrow Video. It wraps up action and revenge flick aesthetics with a creepy tone, loads of late 60’s era sexiness and violence with a solid performance from beautiful Meiko Kaji. She plays Akemi, the head of a yakuza clan sometime during the 1920’s who’s been released from prison only to find there’s a pretty efficient pair of assassins as well as other folks after her and what remains of her loyal gang.

The main assassin (Hoki Tokuda) happens to be the sister of a rival boss out for her own revenge. Akemi accidentally blinded her during the fierce and beautifully shot sword battle that opens up the film and she now she’s somewhat hard to stop as she whittles down Akemi’s gang. Her assistant, a muttering and really creepy killer with wild hair (Tatsumi Hijikata) is one of those characters who gets under your skin and remains there from the moment you see him. Both he and the black cat that appears during the film lend a supernatural tone to the proceedings that lend the film a nice horror vibe. That said, if you pay close attention, you’ll see that the film tends to toss a lot at you with expectations that you’ll keep up.

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Fred Dobbs, You’re Nuts In Any Decade!

(thanks, Danios12345!)
 

Ha. I just realized while watching The Treasure of the Sierra Madre for the zillionth time that the name Fred Dobbs appears in another memorable (but for the wrong reasons) film and is played by a great actor that livens up the proceedings significantly. That film would be 1980’s sci-fi horror(/unintentional comedy) hybrid (They Came)Without Warning and that actor would be the great Martin Landau. The Greydon Clark-directed cult flick is actually one of those great guilty pleasures worth tracking down because of its oddball cast (Jack Palance, Cameron Mitchell, Larry Storch, Neville Brand and a young David Caruso among others) and pre-Predator plot about an alien come to earth to do some hunting.

(thanks, metal4472!)
 

As I’m a bit off-kilter (and proud of it!) I’d do a back-to-back double feature with these two even though the tone is vastly different between the two films. Or you could go from the first film to Raiders of the Lost Ark with Without Warning and Predator for an all-day marathon of interesting genre flipping and blending. But I’ll leave personal programming choices all to you fine folks out there. Enjoy!

Blu-Ray Review: Retaliation

Retaliation BR_CoverRetaliation (Shima wa moratta), Yasuharu Hasebe’s follow up to his 1967 yakuza flick Massacre Gun is another gem from the director worth a look. Packed with great Japanese actors throwing themselves fully into their roles as gangsters and plenty of full color violence, the film’s only “weak” point is a plot where you can often see what’s coming a mile away. But Hasebe’s technique shines here as the director pulls off some great shots and keeps you hooked in right from the beginning.

Akira Kobayashi plays Jiro Sagae, a gangster fresh out of prison after an eight-year stretch for murdering a rival yakuza. He’s followed from jail by Jo Shishido’s Hino, the brother of the man he killed who’s been planning his revenge for years. As Hino attacks Jiro, Hino’s girl (who’d been following him) rushes in and interrupts the battle, forcing Hino to put off his vengeance until later. Jiro eventually goes to see his aging and indebted to another crime boss Godfather who sends him to pay his respects to his former rival. That Boss makes Jiro an offer he can’t refuse in the form of busting up another gang trying to buy up farmland in a tiny village so a factory can be built. Jiro gets a ragtag group of assistants from a failed actor, a card shark, a pair of singers and amusingly enough Hino, the man who tried to kill him at the beginning of the film.

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Blu-Ray Review: Massacre Gun

massacre gun Arrow_MVDYasuharu Hasebe’s brooding but action-packed Massacre Gun (Minagoroshi no kenjū) is a great example of the Japanese gangster film that’s well worth a look. Starring chipmunk-cheeked Jô Shishido (he has plastic surgery to look that way), the film packs in plenty of beatings and shootings into its 91 minute running time while maintaining its not so sunny outlook for just out everyone in its cast. Then again, when the “happiest” looking guy in the movie is the angry one with the titular firearm you know you’re in for a wild ride.

Shishodo stars as Kuroda, a hit man who turns on his employers after being sent on a job to kill his girlfriend. Kuroda fires himself after the work and teaming up with his brothers Saburo (Jirô Okazaki)and Eiji (“Tatsuya Fuji”, or director Hasebe’s acting persona) also wronged by the crime boss, set off to take down his empire. This trio of men setting out for vengeance on other men thing is a high risk gig and yes, the film has a very fatalistic tone running throughout that works heavily in its favor. Some Japanese gangster films tend to have running themes about codes of honor and men maimed or dying in as respectful a manner possible (well, given the violent ways in which they meet their ends). There’s a lot of that in Massacre Gun, but Hasebe’s fluid, innovative direction and use of a jazzy score make the film compelling even in its most violent moments. That and the film is amusing when it needs to be. Someone gets a nice surprise in the form of a booby trapped coffin and some of the sudden violence can be funny because it arrives when least expected and lasts longer than you’d think.

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Mad Max: Fury Road May “Retaliate” If You Don’t Go See It


 

I can only imagine some wag who plans to blow this off stepping outside one sunny day only to have a chopped and channeled dust-covered death-mobile roll up as a long handled grabber of some kind reaches for their shirt collar. Yeah, that will be a wild ride to the nearest multiplex to be sure. You can avoid this fate by just going to see the movie, you know. It opens May 15 pretty much anywhere you can see current films. Now, I know that some of you adventure seekers wouldn’t at all mind getting yanked into a crazy-looking ride for a bouncy-bouncy trip to the cinema. But the thing is, when these guys show up to get you… you end up riding OUTSIDE on that long pole. That could get problematic if you happen to reside in an area with a lot of potholes. Ouch.